Grandma’s Camp

McKay holding Abe, Bella, Weston, Harry, Rein, Maddie Sydnie

I usually gear it toward ages 7-13. The younger kids come and go as their attention span allows, and the older kids help me and the younger kids. I have three goals for Grandma’s Camp

  1. Get everyone together to strengthen family bonds
  2. Re-enforce the good values they are learning at home.
  3. Have a lot of fun and make happy memories.

I have written about a few of the themes, but I will be adding more all the time. Here is a list of Grandma Camp Themes I have used:

Architect Camp

Australia Camp

Victorian Times

Boot Camp

Book of Mormon Camp

Civil War and Hattie (American Girl)

Cowboy and Outlaw Camp

Egypt Camp

Harry Potter Camp

Medieval Times Camp

Nature Camp

Pioneer Trek Camp

Secret Garden Camp

Sound of Music Camp

Spy Camp

Wonderland Camp (Alice’s Adventures)


Which Grandma do I want to be?

I like to spend time with the kids in an organized way, with activities or some other plan, but
grandchildren are, of course, welcome at our house any time, and for those unplanned days, I’ve collected  things that make it a comfortable and happy place for them to be.

I learned this from my children’s grandmothers. They were two totally different kinds of grandmas. We lived three hours away from them so when we did go to the City, we stopped at both places to visit.

  • Grandmother G. lived in a small cluttered house. She was a professional quilter and had many projects going at once in the living room, dining room, and the back room. She was a dear lady and so talented that her name became well known by all quilters. She had many articles in the newspaper about her talents, and she won the Governor’s Folk Art Award for her contributions of continuing the art of quilting. Everyone loved her, especially her grandkids, but they hated going to her house. They weren’t allowed in her bedroom or Grandpa’s room downstairs. There were very small areas in the living room, dining room, and kitchen where you could walk to get from one room to the other, but there was never to be any rowdiness or active play in her house. The children were not  allowed to touch anything because there were pins and needles  and scissors, and tacks everywhere. So a visit to this grandma’s house was boring. Although they could have played quietly, she had no toys except a string of thread spools that she had made long ago. And the worst thing was that there was nothing in her house to snack on except saltine crackers. They were always left out in a plastic container on the table. So the kids would come in and ask quietly if they could have some crackers. Sometimes she cooked a meal for us,   At those times we ate in the kitchen with some of us sitting and some standing because there was not much room. The table and chairs served as storage space. Grandma and Grandpa G were from the South and so she made great soul food. We loved it, but the kids…well-some of it we ate at home and they liked, but other things…well it took me a few years to acquire a taste for a lot of the food and I did. Yum, I love it all! But they refused to put the effort into acquired taste buds so  they usually came away from her house still hungry unless she had plenty of crackers to spare.
  • She did have some great family gatherings–a barbecue in the summer and a Christmas Party in December. At these times she outdid herself on baking and cooking. There were so many goodies and food in a big variety. The back yard summer parties were great. They were not confined to the house and there was always homemade ice cream! Christmas party, however, there was no room to move. The dining room table was cleaned off and a wonderful spread of food was placed on  it. Then you picked your spot to sit or stand and you stayed there.  The kids often went outside to play in winter or summer, but she didn’t let them play noisy games. She worried about her neighbors and would go out and tell the kids to be quieter.
  • The kids have fond memories of all of this now, but when they were young they would embarrass me when they would keep asking when we were going to our other grandma’s house.  They knew she loved them,  but with all the “don’t touch,” “don’t go in there,” “put that back, it’ll hurt you,” a visit to her house was no fun.
  • Grandma H. was just the opposite She had books and toys and dishes of candy around so that if we surprised her with a visit, she still had a treat for the kids. I heard one of my little boys tell his friend, “You should see my Grandma’s house. She has tons of candy!” She always had other snacks and their favorite cereal on hand as well. She made sure they knew they were welcome to anything (Except her Mrs. Cavanaugh’s Chocolates, which she were for the adults who knew how to appreciate good chocolate–so we had our treats too.)  Her house was neat and always cleaned up with lots of area to walk, play and even run.  Her children dropped in often to see her and check on her with their children, so on our visits there were usually cousins to play with. They would play hide and seek, and other noisy games inside and outside.  They could help themselves to anything and play anywhere in the house.
  • Grandma H.  would say, “I’m going to lie down for a bit, but no matter how noisy the children get, don’t close my door.”
  • Grandma H had many barbecues through the summer for her family and a big Christmas party too  She also had parties for the little kids, candy making parties for the teenagers , bowling parties for everyone and picnics up the canyons to keep her family close. Everybody wanted to be at  Grandma.’s house any time or all the time. They kids hated leaving and couldn’t wait to go back.
  • I knew early on what kind of grandparent I wanted to be.  Grandma H was my role model. It is fun to keep a house that is friendly to kids. Some of my favorite words are “Grandma I love coming to your house.”

Planning–How to Get People to Come


Lots of websites with invitation ideas. Use a photo of your ancestor that you are honoring. This invitation is found on

The number ONE RULE to get people to come is  ADVERTISING!



  • LOTS ADVERTISING and REMINDERS which requires 
  • ITINERARY. You can’t advertise if you don’t know what you are doing.
  • USE EMAIL, FACEBOOK, TEXTS , or send out invitations and follow-up with emails and text reminders.

B-FOCUS ON THE YOUNG for activities!

  • Plan for the Majority:  You want to focus on the young–Young adults, teenagers, older kids to young parents. Parents will more easily be persuaded to come if their children will enjoy it.We always tried to get something that most people would want to do and could do.
  • Older People: are usually content staying put and visiting with others.  So if you have a Comfortable “Home Base” there is usually a group who wants to stay behind. (You never want to leave people just waiting for you to come back.) Or have another plan for those who don’t participate in the major activity.
  •  Babies and Toddlers: Often the older grandparents will keep the little ones who can’t participate, or there are some moms that want to stay back with the babies. Plan something that they can do like a craft, or a museum, or a tour–it totally depends on where your reunion is located.

C-Other Tips We’ve Learned About Getting People To Come Long Distances:

1.  Fun Destinationsare a big draw. When people hear the family is getting together at some fun place, they don’t want to be left out. For destinations that have been fun for our family see Destinations.

 2.  “Big Ideas”–Plan something out-of-the-ordinary. Suggestions:

        2-A-Rentals:  Sometimes, to do something out of the ordinary, we have had to rent equipment. You can rent just about anything.

  • Big Blow Up Toys–I know people who have rented the big blow up toys like slides, bounce houses, etc. We have never done  that, so I have no information on them,  but kids love those.
  • Bikes–We once rented bikes for everyone in the family–even the grandma and grandpa and babies. We rented trailers for people with babies. Everyone paid for their own bikes or trailers. See Destination: Seattle
  • Horses– We have rented horses and borrowed horses. This usually works best if you have a variety of activities to choose from, and some ride horses while others may choose swimming, or golfing or whatever works for your group. See Destinations: Blanding, Huntington Lake State Park, Little Creek Cabin.
  • Jet Skis–We only rented a couple and everyone who wanted to ride them took turns. We had a schedule that you could sign up for the time. This was one of those times we had a variety. Some people went on a tour through a coal mine, others went horseback riding. See Destination: Huntington Lake State Park
  • ATVs –We have rented these for everyone, so every four wheeler had two people on it. When you rent these, they come with a helmet, and usually a trailer so you can haul them to the place you need them. You could also rent a few, if you have a base camp, and take turns on these. See Destination: Joe’s Valley, Paiute Trail.
  • Kayaks–We rented some kayaks for one of our family reunions–of the immediate family. Only  9 people wanted to go (we rented 4- two man and 1- one man), and the rest stayed on the beach and played. Kayaks only hold one or two people, so these aren’t necessarily the best for a big group, but tons of fun in with a smaller group and the right area. See Destination: Seattle
  • Rafts and Tubes–We rented rafts and took a guided raft trip down the Green River. Most people went, even 90 year old grandma. Babies couldn’t come. But later we rented rafts and tubes–self guided down the Provo River. See Destination: Provo River.

      2-B– Honor Someone: Celebrate the life of an  Ancestor.

  • Birthdays or other eventsFor instance, we had a family reunion on the 50th anniversary of my dad’s death. It was all about him. People were asked to bring pictures, and/or other items they had that had belonged to my dad. We honored and gave prizes to each person who had the name of Parker (his name). There were two with the first name of Parker–different generations, and one great-granddaughter who had married a man with the middle name of Parker.  People were asked to share memories, and also to tell about the heirloom or photograph they had. Some people that lived hours away had told us they couldn’t make it, but when they found out it was about Grandpa Parker, they came.
  1.       A Grandparent that is still living--Make a big deal about Grandma’s 90th birthday or grandparents’ 60 wedding anniversary, or just make it “All About Grandpa.”
  •  People will usually try harder to come for the grandparent’s sake. We planned an 80th birthday party for Grandpa one year, and people came from Georgia, California, and other states. If planned far enough ahead, people can get days off and cheaper airline tickets.
  • Grandma Nina’s Quilt Show–It was all about Grandma, and we asked people to bring quilts she had made. Most family members know the importance of honoring a grandparent and make more of an effort. See Grandma Nina’s Quilt Show

  • 2-
    1. Highlight an Ancestor
  •  Make it extraordinary weaving an ancestor’s homeland, occupation, hobbies, characteristics into the theme. Use your imagination. Use Pinterest. Don’t be afraid of Excess.
  • One of our ancestors was from England–So here are some ideas that we have done for more than one ancestor, combined in this suggestion–brainstorm with these and come up with your own ideas: See Pioneer Trek, Family History Focused Reunions.

  • Find recipes that are authentic to England and assign them out to people for a dinner.

  • Set the table with English teapots and teacups (You can serve any drink from them.) or see #3.

  • Decorate!! Grandpa ran a tin shop in Salt Lake City after immigrating to there. We found an historic photograph of it from the Utah State Archives/Historical Society. Have a copy place print it large and use it for wall decor, along with anything else that fits with that such as tin plates to eat on; tin buckets with prizes in them. (These would be basics, add excess to these ideas.)

  • Family History fan chart on the wall. Family History pedigree charts laminated for place mats/souvenirs.

  • Grandpa was sued in court by his first wife. That account was found in a newspaper, and presented as a reader’s theater. Any story could be acted out in a skit. OR Have someone with an English accent tell his story in first person and costume or some other drama.

    Horseback riding and/or horse and wagon rides to experience his mode of travel.

  • I assigned one of my nieces to make little booklets with his story in them that and pass them out so they can be read to children over so they remember that ancestor.

  • Copy photos of him and any histories–check out or search state archives for photos and histories, then make copies and pass them out at the reunion.

  • Ask people to dress in period costume for the era that he lived.


3–Choose a Place that has Family Connections–Reunion in a town or place that has family meaning, often draws people from all over, such as:

  •  A Home Town Tour–My husband’s family is from Georgia. We planned two years ahead. Everyone wanted to see Georgia.
  • We also set a reunion in our old hometown, Tooele. Destinations that involve ancestor pioneers will often draw people out, as well.  Family members have usually heard some stories about these places and want to see them.
  • We planned a camping trip to the Hole-in-the-Rock Trailmy great-grandfather had been part of that mission, so we wanted to explore where he had gone, and study what the group had experienced.
  • We re-enacted a mini Pioneer Trek. See Destinations: Blanding, Georgia, Tooele. See Pioneer Trek, Hole in the Rock Trail.

4—-Have a Reunion with a Fun Theme--such as Circus, Animals, Time Period, Pirates, etc. Planning ahead is important for this idea. With enough time, people can get costumes for the theme. (We have a costume rental place near where I live called “Doll’s Costumes.” She has everything and rents them cheap. Check your local places or come to Emery County!

  • My mom rented an Old Mansion in the Avenues for an evening. We had dinner there, and she wanted us to dress in late 1800s costumes. She wanted a cultured musical program, such a classic piano music, clarinet duet, classical songs sung by the trained voices in our family. We ate on china and crystal (the adults. I think the kids had paper and ate at a different table). It was a very elegant experience. Even the little kids loved it.
  • It would be  fun to do it in an Austenland– Jane Austen time period.
  • We had a Medieval Times reunion last year. That was the theme of Grandma Dottie’s Camp, and everyone participated. See Medieval Times Camp. Also see Pioneer Camp.
  • We have had two family “Murder Mystery Dinners.” They can include up to 20 people. We held them as dinner parties, but they could be a fun evening activity during a reunion, after little ones are in bed. You can buy these games or find them online. We did one that was a 50′s High School Reunion and one on a train in France. You receive an invitation which tells you who your character is and describes what she/he would wear. Everyone shows up dressed up as their character. Pieces of the story are handed out, and what each person’s role is in that part, and it is all ad-lib from there. There are some local trains-in many areas–that feature these. Reservations are made ahead, and they send out the invitations, etc. There is also a bed and breakfast in Manti that does these, so I’m sure there are many other places that could be found online.

Grandma Nina Reunion

We didn’t plan very much of this reunion, but there were some great ideas here! Grandma Nina was asked to do a quilt show in one of the big rooms at the care center she lived in. They were having a Family Festival Day for all the families of the residents. Nina was one of the founding members of the Utah Quilt Guild in the 1970s. She had quilted all of her life, and when she moved to Salt Lake City, she found the art had just about died out. So she started teaching classes in LDS Relief Societies; she taught at YWCA for years, and made and sold quilts at Mormon Handicraft and started teaching  classes ther, and continued for 25 years. She had done many quilt shows in her life, but she could no longer get one together. So we set gathered some of her quilts from all over the family, and set the display up in the big room where Grandma sat in her wheel chair answering questions and talking to people.

Nina's Quilt Show1

Her family gathered together and enjoyed a reunion in honor of her!

Outside they had some really fun activities like a Goldfish Race. You caught a goldfish from a container, with a net, and put it in one of the two rain gutters set up with water in them. The person who chose the fish blows on the water to make enough current to get the fish swimming in the right direction. It was very funny!

Nina's Quilt Show


They had wagon rides, face painting, balloons, mini pie eating contest–that is a not a mini contest, but a contest to see how many mini pies you could eat. They were all cream pies and very yummy. They also served lunch with salads, baked beans, and smoked pork sandwiches from a barbecue smoker.

Nina's Quilt Show2

First three pictures beginning at the top are pie eating contest. Center photo is Grandma Nina being pushed around by a great-grandson as she explains her quilts to people. Treats in bowls made to look like fish bowls. They had Swedish Fish, and Gold Fish Crackers, and other fish shaped snacks.


Grandma Nina was 93 years old. She was amazed at all the quilts that were there, and couldn’t remember some of them, but was very impressed with them. It was a great way to get together, honor her, and show our appreciation for all of her talent and generosity through the years.

Family History Destinations–Going Home

Going Home–Blanding

My grandparents on my father’s side lived in Blanding and so it was home to my father. My grandmother on my mom’s side moved there for work, and at the age of 20, my mom joined her and helped her run an Indian Dormitory for a few years. This is where my mom and dad met and lived there for a while. Later after my father died, my mother moved to Blanding when she married my father’s brother, and they lived there together for a few years.  So Blanding is a  ”Going Home Family Reunion.”

My mother held a family reunion here and people from all over the state and outside of Utah came. Relatives who still live there arranged for tours and hikes to Ancient Native American sites, or horseback riding adventures, etc. That evening we all gathered for dinner and a campfire. We sang old songs around the campfire, and then my mom presented a reader’s theater based on a newspaper article of my great grandfather. He was a polygamist and had three wives. The first wife decided she didn’t like polygamy and with the help of those people who came into Utah–reporters, spies, agents–to try to expose the practice as evil. She was aided in deciding to sue her husband for polygamy. It was the first trial, but it was brought against him by his wife. This was reported in newspapers all over the country like New York and Chicago. This  article came from a Chicago Newspaper. It was written cleverly with a sense of humor, and so Mom assigned parts to different people such as the wife, Thomas Hawkins, the reporter, the judge, etc. And it was performed. Afterwards my aunt who had known him as her grandfather and had researched a lot shared the rest of the story with us. Until then I didn’t know much about my great grandfather, but I have always remembered that part of his life. We all learned a lot in a memorable way.

Destination: Sand Hollow State Park

Sand Hollow Reservoir is near St. George, Utah.

There is a big reservoir in the red rock area with shallow areas and very deep waters with a huge rock from which to dive and jump into that water. It was a great water park for all ages. We splashed in the shallow water with the little kids. The older kids and all of us swimming.

Sand Hollow-001

Then the older kids walked over to a high rock where they could jump and dive.  The rock has so many levels from which to jump, that all the kids 8 and over were jumping from that rock.

Sand Hollow1-001

It is actually attached to the main rock, so it is an easy walk to the top of this rock from the other side. Once you jump off, you can climb backup by using the rope that you can see in bottom left photo. Kids jumped and dove off the rock. I thought the most fun was just watching.

We had a picnic, snacks, lots of visiting and photo shoots. It is gorgeous! And we made so many memories!

It’s a great place for all water sports, and there are also sand dunes, and ATV trails, as well as golfing, and other activities at this state park.

Family History Reunion–Pioneer Trek

Pioneer Trek Reunion

Another time when it was my turn, we went up Huntington Canyon and reenacted a mini pioneer trek. We used ancestor stories and planned around that. Each person was given a pioneer bonnet or a cowboy hat. One of our ancestors headed to Oregon for the gold fields. They stopped in Salt Lake for supplies and he joined the Mormon Church. So we salted the creek with some gold marbles for the kids to find as we began our trek (they could each pick up four gold nuggets), telling them the story of William Morley Black. The family was divided into families with a “Ma and Pa” for each family. Each family had a little wagon or a wheel barrow to use as their handcart. Each person brought a bedroll (to eat their lunch on) and a large squirt gun or super soaker (for the buffalo hunt) and put them in the handcart.

Family Reunion--Hawkins Pioneer Trek1
Top Row: L-Panning for gold; C-On the trail; R-A pioneer ancestor visits us and tells her story. Middle Row:-Crossing a stream. Bottom Row: L-Guns read for the buffalo hunt; C-The hunt; R-The Trading Post.

Toward the end, some anonymous person handed each family a note that told of a challenge for their family such as one of their children broke his leg. They had to figure how to best help him. The trail crossed a small stream two times, and the leaders had to figure out the best place to across. Everyone made a stop to eat their lunch (cheese stick, jerky, and an apple). We had one of our pioneer ancestor–Ann Jewell Rowley appear to us and tell her stories of faith. The dads and grandpas acted as the buffalo and had a cardboard buffalo head as a shield. The kids had the most fun with this activity. At the end of the trek, they could spend their gold at the trading post. After the trek was over, the kids gathered around an aunt who helped them make a pioneer craft. Each family was given a small book that told the stories of their pioneer ancestors, to take home. We ate chili and scones for late lunch. The there was free time for kids and visiting time for adults.

Family History Destinations–Tooele

Going Home–Tooele


The Aquatic Center at Desert Peak Resort

My sister chose our old hometown of  Tooele for the venue of one of our family reunions. We went to the new Desert Peak Aquatic Center and everyone went swimming. There is a water slide and a huge pool. It is also located by the Historic Benson Grist Mill which has a lot of interesting, historic things to see and do. It’s a great way to review history of the area where we had lived for many years.



Our old pioneer house in Tooele. Left–My sister and I in the doorway of our old house a couple of years ago. It was empty and the yard is overgrown. The door was open so we took a tour. Right—I’m the baby, my sister is behind me, in 1949. The house was about 100 years old when we lived there.

We had lunch after our activities and then everyone was given a driving tour map with addresses and information on it telling about our home, the homes of two sister in laws, who grew up there as well, the high school my brothers attended, the hospital my mother worked as administrator, the old hospital where I was born, the elementary school we all attended, and some points on our way home where we picnicked as children, such as Black Rock Beach on the Great Salt Lake, and Adobe Rock. Everyone had their own map and so we all went in our individual cars at our own pace.

Family History Destinations–Georgia

Going Home–Milledgeville, Georgia 

My husband is from Georgia. Two of his brother still live there. The other three boys lived in Utah, at the time of this reunion. My mother-in-law, Nina wanted us all to go to Georgia for a family reunion. We planned it two years ahead. We knew we wanted to be there in the Springtime when it was most beautiful and not too hot. The folks in Georgia did a lot of planning on their end of it as well.

Family Reunion-Georgia
The top left picture is just one of the fishing trips that were planned. The top right is a family blue grass band that has recorded their music, and Uncle Tut Taylor, famous among blue grass music lovers. He has made many albums, and won a Grammy for one of them! “He’s called the Flat Pickin’ Dobro Man.” So we were entertained a lot!

We had a huge southern barbecue, where they cook a hog over  a pit all night long. And then, added to that, were all the fabulous southern dishes and desserts. It was fabulous. All cousins, aunts and uncles in the whole state were invited! Feasting and visiting went on for three days!

Top Left–Nina (Ben’s mom) with her brothers and sister–all still living in Georgia. Center–Charlie (Ben’s Dad) and his sister. Right–One of the old homes Ben lived in as a boy. Bottom Row Left–The old Methodist Church where Charlie’s parents are buried. Center–Gravestones of Charlie’s parents. Right–The Old State Capitol building, now a Military high school.

We went to Georgia a few more times, and each time we had a big family barbecue and learned more family history. We toured the town and saw all of the houses that Nina and Charlie had lived in through the years of raising their five boys; where Nina had worked and gone to school; The Georgia State Mental Hospital where Ben’s grandfather and aunt worked; the theater they used attend; the old schools; Georgia Women’s College, which once The Governor’s Mansion and other State Buildings. In the early 1900s Peabody High School was in one of the college buildings, and that is where Nina attended high school. Note: During the Civil War Milledgeville was the state capitol. After the Civil War the capitol was moved to Atlanta.

Family Reunion--Georgia-Hilton Head-Savannah1

One year all the brothers and sister-in-laws got together in Georgia for a family history tour and discussions. Then we all went to Hilton Head Island and rented a beautiful beach house for three days. We visited Savannah and other wonderful sights, but our evening conversation was always about memories of Georgia, grandparents, aunts and uncles, skeletons in the closets, places the family lived and worked, etc. We taped our conversations so it could be typed up as history later. And on every trip, we  got to see Uncle Tut Taylor and be entertained by his wonderful blue grass music played on a dobro! Although he moved to Tennessee long ago for his music career, he always came to Georgia to be with family when we got together.tttitl-002

Song written about Tut,  sung by Don Humphries with Tut playing the Dobro.


Family Reunion Games and Activities

Games, also see Family History Focused Fun for games

Old Fashioned Games are still some of the most fun to play. Our daughter-in-law planned a family reunion with an afternoon at a park playing  many of these old games. It was fun for everyone–old and young! It can be used for family-history themed reunions as well.


What games did our grandparents play?

Click on the names to go to websites with rules for old games.

Red Rover

Anti I Over

Three-legged Race

Gunny-sack Race

Kick the Can

Capture the Flag

Eat Donuts off a String

Guess Who? We had square pieces of paper for everyone to write something about themselves that most people don’t know. They all go into a jar, and the M. C. reads them out and everyone tries to guess who that is. For instance someone wrote that she loved to dance and would lock herself in her room, turn the music up, and dance. Most people were guessing teenagers, but it was not a teenager. Someone wrote that a helicopter had landed in her front yard, etc.

About You   (These questions start conversations as other people remember something that is relative, so the point is not to get to everyone, but to engage everyone in conversation and reminiscing)

Have questions in a bowl for people to draw from. Each person answers the question, such as  Which sibling were you closest to and why? What chores did you do when you lived at home? What was your favorite piece of clothing you had as a child? What store did you shop in the most when you were young? Who was a neighbor you didn’t like and why? What was the best advice your dad gave you? What activity did you like to do the most when you were young? Where did your dad or mom work? Did you go to work with them ever? Where was your room located in the house, describe it. Where was your favorite place to play? Sing a childhood song you knew back then. What do you remember about Grandma (or Grandpa, or Aunt? Uncle? ) What was your favorite treat as a kid?

Did You Know?

Have a box with pieces of paper, and invite all the guests to write a little known fact or story about the family–anonymously.


The host of the game reads something about an ancestor and asks everyone there to admit it, if they have done the same thing. This one can be used as a fund raiser. If you have done the same thing as Grandpa, Grandma, or some Aunt or Uncle, you put a quarter in the pot. Such as, ” Grandpa used to drink beer. If you have ever drunk beer, put a quarter in the pot.” Grandma one stole a piece of chalk from her teacher. If you have ever stolen anything…” Grandpa loved to drag State Street in his souped up car. If you have ever had a “souped up” car or drug State Street…” Grandma used to die her hair,  if you have…” Grandpa started fights at school. If you have ever been in a fist fight…” Grandma never would miss an episode of her soap opera. If you have ever watched soap operas…” Grandpa used to swear…” Aunt Lizzy could never keep a secret, if you have blurted out something you shouldn’t have…”

(This one could also be played with a basket of candy–if they had similar experiences to Grandpa…take a piece of candy.)

Who Am I?

Have names of family members on sticky notes, stick one of the names on a person’s forehead. He has to go around asking yes or no questions about who he is, such as “Am I male?”  ”Am I young? ”  ”Am I a farmer?”  ”Do I make delicious bread?” “Did I live in Oregon?” He can’t ask the same person more than once, so everyone has to mix and mingle. If children are playing this game, then you could use the names of people at the reunion–just cousins and aunts and people they know.

Name This Baby

Gather baby pictures of all those attending. Place them on a wall or board with numbers on each one. Each guest gets a paper with the list of all attendees (whose pictures you have), and places the corresponding number of baby picture with the name. If it is an extended family, then have everyone gets to play. If it is the more immediate family, then maybe just the kids should guess.

Who does this baby belong to?

In an extended family reunion we had all the mothers with babies –up to two years old  stand in a row holding someone else’s baby. Guests had to guess which baby belonged to which mother. This was really fun because some babies look just like their mothers, and others look nothing like their mother. We had a blond, blue-eyed mother with a dark haired, brown eyed baby that a stranger would never have guess belonged to her.  But that baby looked a lot like others in the family. It’s a fun way to look at family resemblance.

Team Building Games

We have played team building games like they do at business retreats, and they work really well at family reunions, and they can be hilarious. I can’t remember the rules to them, so look online. There are tons of them. Here is one website: Team Builders 

Herding Pigs

We played this team game at our Cowboy and Outlaw themed Reunion. You blow up pink balloons and let the kids draw faces on them. Then you have an area that is enclosed on three sides to act as the corral. Each team takes turns herding the pigs into a corral with flyswatters. This is a lot of fun because balloons are as hard to herd as pigs would be. It can be done at the same time, if you have two “corrals” or one team at a time with a stop watch. There are lessons that can be applied to this activity such as being unwilling to follow the crowd, if that is a teaching that is needed, or it can be of following rules for safety and happiness reasons.  I try to adapt games to a lesson when I have the kids around.


Charades is a classic game that most people really like to play. I have a container that is about the size of two cups filled with Popsicle sticks. I have written a names of movies, books, and songs on each stick. I geared these to children to play charades. They pull out a stick and act it out and have their team guess, as any game of charades is played. The popscicle sticks are a good way of preserving the titles for the next group of kids is ready to play. Kids tend to entertain themselves with this for a long time. It, of course, could be geared for adults as well.


It would be fun to have rotating yard games–three or four games going at once, and every 15 minutes two people from each game rotate to the next game and pick up where the other players were (other players rotate as well), so not every rotates at once, but everyone gets to play with many people.

Croquet, Bad Minton, Volleyball are always fun, but we found two new games last year that our family loves.

Kubb-Viking Bowling

This game is very fun. It is difficult, but a child can do it as well, almost as an adult. My husband made us a set because our family enjoyed playing a borrowed set so much. There are rules online.

We love this game, and we take it with us. We were camping last year at Pete’s Hole, and people who passed would stop their cars and ask what game we were playing. There is a lot of laughing.

Washers –Urban Horseshoes

This is a very fun toss game. There are lots of sites that have the rules online


Self Defense and Safety

It is a great place to talk about self defense to kids as well as adults. There are safety councils in all cities that have people who will come talk about self defense, neighborhood watch, drunk driving, etc. My daughter was the EMT Director in her town for many years, and she brought some of these things to our family reunion. Impaired Driving Goggles were a big hit, as everyone tried to walk a straight line with them on. It is a very effective way to teach about drinking and driving.

Water Slide

My sister set a water slide up at a park in Bountiful with a very steep hill. She bought the visqueen at a home improvement store. They secure it with tent pegs (this time they forgot them and used rocks). There is a water tap close by, and they took a hose to hook up to it. (Their ward had done this for a couple of parties.)

Hawkins water slide1

Everyone  had a ball with this homemade slide. We had dinner lunch before and during the water activity at the pavilion in the park, and watermelon afterward. Awards were given to the kids. Awards can be purchased at thrift stores and painted. Kids love getting an award, even if they have a bowling ball on them and they won the award for bravest slider.

Roller Skating

My mom used to rent a Roller Skating Rink every year the night after Thanksgiving Dinner as an activity to keep us together having fun on that day.

Family Fun--Roller Skating-001